In an emailed statement to the Tribune, Rinaldi said Texas public schools already provide access to free and reduced lunch. He added that Giddings "attempted to mislead" the House about what her bill did.
"It's a mandate on our local schools which will cost more money," Rinaldi said. "I will ensure all children have food to eat and don't believe we need to micromanage school districts to do it."
In a fiscal note on the bill, the Legislative Budget Board said the bill "would result in some costs to school districts to extend credit and provide free meals to students with overdue meal accounts." The costs would vary by district.
Giddings said she's optimistic she could still get HB 2159 passed when lawmakers consider the next uncontested calendar Friday. (Update, May 12: HB 2159 failed to be heard on Friday's consent calendar, but Rep. Giddings says she language from the bill has been added to a pair of Senate bills.)
"It's such an important issue that we will not just take one chance at it. We're also going to be looking to amend other bills to include this provision for children," she said.
Alex Samuels contributed to this report.
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